I produce replica of Roman oil lamps using clay and two-part plaster models. I did the models myself shaping detailed copies of original lamps. I dip the lamps in engobe or terra sigilliata colour before baking them at a temperature of 1200 °C.
Oil lamps made of baked clay were the comonly used source of light in the Roman Empire. Compared with candles, the manufacture of oil lamps was less expensive and they worked with vegetable oil which was broadly available. Depending in which century and where they were made, the oil lamps do have their specific forms, size and motives.
Until the end of the first century, oil lamps with ornamental motives were being produced in the western parts of the Roman Empire. Their central part – the mirror – hold a detailed motive i.e. deities, mystic creatures, plants, animals or scenic images of gladiator fights, erotic scenes or worship acts. The shape of the front part – the spout – is designed in different ways, too and some of them have more than one wick hole.
Beginning of the second century, a new, more simple type of oil lamp was produced; the so called Firma lamp. Their broad manufacture was one of the first mass productions in history. The form was simple, without or with only little ornament and each lamp has the name stamp of the producer (lat. firma) on the bottom.
At the end of the second century a large quantity of oil lamps were produced in the North-African provinces of the Roman Empire. Due to their origin this type is called African type or Christian lamp, as some of them depict a christian symbol. The body of this type of lamp is usually oval and long. The handle, spout and body are one unit. The motives are plants, animals or christian symbols.
The Romans used vegetable oil, i.e. olive or nuts oil. I recommend to use olive oil for these replica. As my oil lamps are baked at a high temperature, they generally do not leak. However, when in use, the lamp does “sweat” and should be placed on a little plate. Children should use the lamps only in presence of adults.
The indicated prices of the sculptures do not include the shipping costs.